The strategic advantage of collaborative learningThe twenty-first century has brought about rapid change that has resulted in many businesses experiencing financial difficulty and failure.  These difficulties can be directly linked to a failure to respond to the changing environment and increased global competitiveness at the organizational level.

These companies lacked strategic action.

David A. Garvin, in his book Learning in Action:  A Guide to Putting the Learning Organization to Work, talks about the strategic benefits collaborative learning provides to a company.

Garvin defines a learning organization as “an organization skilled at creating, acquiring, interpreting, transferring, and retaining knowledge, and at purposefully modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights.”

Garvin also stated that intelligence gathering, or the gathering of any and all pertinent information on a given strategic topic, is critical for strategic development.

The competitive strategy of mutual learning, training, and development suggests that learning within an organization can have positive effects on productivity and success.  A mutual learning environment provides opportunities for employees to share information and learn from one another without boundaries, accelerating organizational learning and creating more flexibility in the organization.

Mutual learning can contribute to a culture of collaboration by supporting work relationships and by assisting to eliminate duplication of mistakes and the perceived need to “reinvent the wheel.” In addition to mutual learning, a company can encourage self-directed learning.

Self-directed learning takes strategic thinking to a higher level by empowering workers to understand what drives success and how to personally contribute to the long-term viability of their roles in the organization through a better understanding of their own style of learning and how their role impacts the organization as a whole. Both mutual learning and self-directed learning increase effectiveness, aide in problem solving, help promote innovative ideas, and execute strategy.

A strategic organization is one that is not stagnant and solicits feedback and intelligence through a variety of sources, both internally and externally, then analyzes the data and acts upon the knowledge received in order to initiate growth and change within the organization.

This system of learning allows a company to stay competitive and innovative within a changing marketplace by encouraging strategic leadership and strategic thinking at all levels within the organization.

Technological advances, increased globalization, and the need to stay competitive has forced companies to examine the knowledge base within the organization and keep tabs on what is available externally as well. A strategic business is one that has modified its behavior and embeds the learning organization model into its values and culture, encouraging trust and cooperation.

This collaborative interchange creates dialogue between stakeholders which allows for a strategic workforce where all levels within the organization work together to develop relationships and allow probing and the generation of new thoughts and ideas.

Such an environment encourages employees to seek out information and work together, thus eliminating silos and barriers and empowering them toward strategic action. By fostering a collaborative learning culture, an organization is in a position to make informed, strategic decisions in a fast-paced competitive global business environment.


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About the Author
Polly Scott
Polly is an Assistant Vice President for CMOE and specializes in organizational management and executive coaching. Polly also has years of experience in sales and marketing, strategic leadership, leadership principles and execution. She is dedicated to listening and understanding the goals of clients.

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